Knowing the Secret of Japanese Fluffy Bread (Hokkaido Milk Bread)

Photo: Photo by Joy on Flickr

Knowing the Secret of Japanese Fluffy Bread (Hokkaido Milk Bread)

Sanny Soedjatmiko Hartanto

Sweet, soft, and milky are probably the best words to describe Japanese milky bread, which is also familiarly known by some people as Hokkaido milk bread. The airy interior structure and delightful aroma can make you crave it more. The dairy products used in the bread are originally made from Hokkaido, giving it a milky with distinct yet light sweet flavor. Some people love it, some of them even put it in their diet menu. Who knew that the making of this heavenly creation needed more attention than we thought.

Photo by Divya Kudua on Flickr
Photo by Alpha on Flickr.

Bread flour, milk, water, sugar, yeast, heavy whipping cream and sea salt are the ingredients found in the Hokkaido milk bread recipe. You can find the recipe practically anywhere; online or maybe from magazines around you. But, the secret may lay in the method called Tang Zhong. The Chinese word Tang Zhong (湯種) means water roux. It is made from cooking bread one part flour and five parts water (1:5) at 65oC. The mixture then has the form of paste (that’s why it is called water roux). It is used as a starter in the making of Hokkaido milk bread. When it is heated to 65oC, a gelatinization reaction happens, bread flour and water combine, and the mixture is able to trap moisture from water. So that, when it is added to other ingredients during the dough making, the final texture of the bread is fluffy and springy (the moisture environment really affects the final product). The most important ingredient of the bread is the heavy cream, preferably Hokkaido milk, which gives the super soft, fluffy and tender texture, with amazing smell as well.

Photo by Joy on Flickr

Hokkaido milk bread is very well-known globally. Outside Japan, this bread has gained a huge following. Innovation of its taste, color, and shape have been done a lot. Today, you can find many different flavors including green tea, purple sweet potato, pumpkin, or Earl Grey tea. Some of them are also filled with chocolate sauce and nuts. As I said before, you can also make your own Hokkaido milk bread at home. But remember that the secret of the softness and airy structure is in the Tang Zhong method.

I've always loved bread with any fillings, such as chocolate, sweet red bean paste, nuts...anything. But, after I came to Japan and ate this Hokkaido milk bread, it makes me think twice about what kind of bread to get. Moreover, when it is freshly baked from the oven, it is a must! Amazing! Its milky smell with fluffy and super soft texture is the best combination I have ever had when eating bread. So, if you have a chance to visit Japan, don't forget to try this bread.